Premier League 2018-19 opening day fixtures in full – Arsenal face Manchester City in Unai Emery’s first game

Manchester City won the Premier League last season with a record 100 points (Picture: Getty)Manchester City will begin the defence of their Premier League title away against Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated the division last season, becoming the first side in the history of the competition to reach 100 points.

The game represents a baptism of fire for new Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who will come up against Guardiola and his assistant Mikel Arteta who was also in the running to succeed Arsene Wenger.

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Unai Emery faces a daunting start to his Arsenal tenure (Picture: Getty)

Premier League | Opening Day Fixtures

Arsenal vs. Man City

Bournemouth vs. Cardiff

Fulham vs. Crystal Palace

Huddersfield vs. Chelsea

Liverpool vs. West Ham

Man Utd vs. Leicester

Newcastle vs. Spurs

Southampton vs. Burnley

Watford vs. Brighton

Wolves vs. Everton

Fixtures to be played on on the weekend of August 11

Elsewhere, Manchester United start with a home game against Leicester, while Liverpool host West Ham at Anfield.

Chelsea, who are still to resolve their managerial situation, travel to Huddersfield while Tottenham visit Newcastle.

Promoted Wolves entertain Everton, while Craven Cottage will host its first Premier League game for four years when Crystal Palace travel to west London for an opening day derby.

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VAR to be implemented at all Carabao Cup matches at Premier League grounds next season

VAR will be used at all Premier League grounds hosting Carabao Cup matches from next season (Picture: Getty)VAR will be implemented at all Premier League grounds staging Carabao Cup matches from next season.

The system was used from the semi final stage last term and was also trialled during the FA Cup with mixed success.

Extra-time, apart from the final which will continue to be staged at Wembley, has also been scrapped with matches that are level after 90 minutes now destined to be settled by a conventional penalty shootout.

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The ABBA system was used last season amid concerns teams taking penalties first held an unfair advantage but the competition will revert to alternate kicks from next season.

On the scrapping of extra-time, the EFL said: ‘The rationale put forward by the EFL is that withdrawing the additional 30 minutes of play would directly address any additional fatigue issues that are occasionally caused when the midweek ties go beyond the traditional 90-minute period.

Manchester City won last season’s Carabao Cup final against Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Edward Nketiah scored Arsenal’s winning goal against Norwich in extra-time last season (Picture: Getty)‘A statistical analysis was presented that demonstrated how almost 85 per cent of matches ended in normal time over a three-year period, without the additional period being required and as a result clubs have supported the new approach.’

The announcement comes on the same day that the Football Association confirmed it is to introduce a winter break as of the 2019/20 season.

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Premier League will introduce February winter break from 2019/20 season

Manchester City won the Premier League last season (Picture: Getty)The Football Association has confirmed the Premier League will schedule a winter break from the 2019/20 season onwards.

Unlike the top leagues in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, English top flight clubs traditionally play up to four fixtures over the festive period.

The additional workload has been cited as a reason for the poor showing of England’s elite clubs in the Champions League in recent years.

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Premier League winter break | How it will work

The break will come into effect for the first time in February 2020
Five Premier League games will take on one weekend, the other five the next
Teams will be afforded a two-week break between matches in this period
All three divisions in the Football League will remain unchanged
The FA Cup fifth round, usually played on the second weekend of February, will be moved to midweek with replays scrapped

Several Premier League games were played in appalling conditions last season (Picture: Getty)Football Association chief Martin Glenn said: ‘If you were to look at other countries that do it, they say, their technical people say, it’s as much the mental break as the physical one.

‘There is nothing as intense as an English Premier League season, with 38 games at all count for something.

‘The hope is that players will be more mentally rested, which makes them fresher, which you will see in, from an England point of view, hopefully going into end of season tournaments with a bit more verve and vim.

‘And, as importantly, the reason the Premier League clubs are so keen on it is that in the Champions League knock-out stage, where we’ve not been great over the past few years, hopefully that can help.’

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Michael Owen’s Premier League predictions, including Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal

It has not been the best of weeks for top-of-the-table Manchester City and things might get even worse for the Champions-elect this weekend given they meet a Tottenham side who are looking to cement their Champions League spot for next season.

Ahead of that match, and the rest of the weekend’s Premier League action, BetVictor brand ambassador Michael Owen makes his predictions…

Southampton v Chelsea

The opening goal is normally very important in any game but perhaps less so at St Mary’s this weekend, given both sides failed to hang on to a lead last time out. Indeed, Southampton have now failed to win any of the last six Premier League games in which they have opened the scoring!

Southampton lost to Arsenal last weekend despite having been in the lead (Getty)The Saints badly need the points as they look to maintain their Premier League status and if there is to be a winner at St Mary’s I feel it will be the hosts, despite them having lost their last four league games against Chelsea.

Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Chelsea

Burnley v Leicester City

Burnley manager Sean Dyche (Getty)Burnley are looking to win five consecutive top-flight games for the first time since November 1968 and Sean Dyche must be a leading candidate for LMA Manager of the Year irrespective of the outstanding claims of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

Only Mo Salah (21) has scored in more Premier League games than Jamie Vardy (15) so far this season and I fancy the Foxes will pick up a hard-earned point at Turf Moor.

Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Leicester City

Crystal Palace v Brighton

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha (Getty)Palace have not had much luck at Selhurst Park in recent months but that might change this weekend in their ‘derby’ clash with Brighton.

Brighton have failed to score in five of their last seven away Premier League games and I think they will struggle to cope with the pace and flair of Wilfried Zaha. You would have got big odds at the start of the season had you backed Luka Milovejic (10) to be top Premier League scorer for the Eagles this term and it is about time that Christian Benteke stepped up to the plate for Roy Hodgson’s side.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Brighton

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Huddersfield v Watford

There have been 32 goals in the last seven league games between the sides and I expect to see another entertaining clash in West Yorkshire.

The Hornets have only picked up one point from their last nine Premier League away games and coach Javi Gracia is yet to see his side score a goal away from Vicarage Road in four previous games. A hard game to call but I would be surprised if we did not see goals at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Prediction: Huddersfield 1-2 Watford

Swansea v Everton

Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal (Getty)I was disappointed with Everton, despite them picking up a point, against Liverpool in last weekend’s Merseyside Derby. They were second best for much of the game before suddenly waking up in the last fifteen minutes due to the fact that the Reds were there for the taking.

It might be a long time before they a have a similar opportunity to break their Derby hoodoo such is the respective strength of the two clubs at present.

Carlos Carvalhal has won seven of his nine home matches since taking over at the Liberty Stadium and both defeats have come at the hands of Spurs. I think the Swans might edge a low-scoring contest.

Prediction: Swansea 1-0 Everton

Liverpool v Bournemouth

Mohamed Salah will be looking to crack the 30 goal mark (Getty)Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 18 home Premier League games and when they take the field at Anfield on Saturday evening against Bournemouth we will just know the winner of the 2018 Grand National – which starts fifteen minute earlier. But more importantly we’ll also know who the Reds will meet in the semi-final of the Champions League.

The Cherries have only won at Stamford Bridge against the ‘Big Six’ sides on the road in the history of the Premier League and I cannot see past another home win for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Mo Salah has scored in 21 Premier League games so far this season and is one goal from becoming just the eighth player in the history of the competition to score 30 league goals in a season. Seventeen of those goals have come at Anfield but his midweek goal at the Etihad again showed just what a great player he is.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth

Tottenham v Manchester City

It’s been a poor week for Pep Guardiola (Metro.co.uk)Manchester City have played two great halves of football against United and Liverpool this week, but they were not able to sustain that brilliance over 90 minutes and it has to go down as a disappointing week for the club.

That should not detract, however, from a magnificent season for the team and they will be fitting champions – even if the champagne is currently on ice.

Spurs have won their last two home league games against City and the visitors would not be human if they did not feel a little sorry for themselves.

As an England supporter, I am concerned that England’s first-choice defender John Stones did not even make the bench for either of the games this week and Gareth Southgate must be a little worried about his lack of regular playing time.

These two sides can only play one way and that is to attack, but I feel the hosts will keep the points in the capital.

Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Manchester City

Newcastle v Arsenal

Can Rafa Benitez mastermind a win over Arsenal? (Reuters)Newcastle will be well aware that they have lost their last 10 Premier League games against the Gunners but I think they will buck that trend at St James’s Park on Sunday.

United have won their last three league games while the Gunners have actually lost their last four Premier League games on the road. Yes – they have not played an away league game since their 2-1 defeat at Brighton at the beginning of March!

Arsenal have only won thirteen of their 54 points so far this season on their travels and if there is to be a winner on Sunday, I expect United will edge it.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Arsenal

Manchester United v West Brom

Manchester United stunned Man City last time out (Getty)Manchester United have kept a league-high 16 clean sheets in the league so far this season and with a trip to Bournemouth to come on Wednesday I expect to see a no-frills success from Jose Mourinho’s side whose confidence must be sky-high after their Etihad derby win.

The Baggies have not won in their last 15 away league games while United have won their last five league games. This looks a banker home win.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 West Brom

West Ham v Stoke City

David Moyes would love to see his side win the Monday night game (Getty)You have to go back to December 2016 for the last time West Ham gained back-to-back home wins and I feel the Potters might take a vital point in the capital on Monday night.

Stoke are fighting for the Premier League lives but do have a good record at West Ham where they are unbeaten in their last five league visits.

Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Stoke City

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Michael Owen is a Brand Ambassador for BetVictor. For more tips from Michael read his column here.

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Michael Owen’s Premier League predictions, including Chelsea v Tottenham

The Premier League returns this weekend following the final international break of the season with the visit of Tottenham to Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge the highlight of the fixture list.

BetVictor brand ambassador Michael Owen shares his thoughts on every top-flight match…

Crystal Palace v Liverpool

You have to go back twenty years for the last time Liverpool did the double over Crystal Palace in the Premier League but I will be surprised if the Eagles prevent the Reds from taking the points at Selhurst Park in the early kick-off on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool (Getty)Mohammed Salah has scored in 20 of his 30 Premier League games so far this season and he is only one away from the record set by Robin van Persie (2012-13) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08). That statistic shows vividly what a tremendous impact he has had on the Premier League in just his first season.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool

Brighton v Leicester City

Jamie Vardy scored for England against Italy during the international break (Getty)Brighton have won their last three home league games at the Amex but I feel they may have to settle for a point against a Leicester side who put four past West Brom in their last away game.

Twenty of Leicester’s thirty Premier League games so far this season have seen both sides find the back of the net – more than any other side in the division – and I think we will see goals again at the weekend.

Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Leicester City

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Manchester United v Swansea

Romelu Lukaku is one goal away from joining the 100 club (Getty)Manchester United have already beaten Swansea twice so far this season and I think they will land the treble at Old Trafford.

Romelu Lukaku has 99 Premier League goals to his name and I feel he will join the 100 club against a Swans side who have won their last two league games against ‘big six sides’ albeit both at the Liberty Stadium.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Swansea

Newcastle v Huddersfield

Dwight Gayle is Newcastle’s top scorer (Getty)Huddersfield have failed to score in their last three Premier League games and I feel they will struggle against a Newcastle side who have won their last two home Premier League outings.

Dwight Gayle is the Magpie’s top Premier League scorer with five so far this season, which highlights the fact that United have struggled for goals this term, but they put three past Southampton in their last game and I expect the hosts to keep the points in a low-scoring contest.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-0 Huddersfield

Watford v Bournemouth

Watford manager Javi Gracia (Getty)Watford have only lost one of their last 16 home games against Bournemouth and the Hornets will be keen to put behind them their five-goal defeat at Anfield last time out. The hosts have a perfect three from three home record under Javier Gracia and they have never lost to Bournemouth in five previous Premier League games between the clubs.

Prediction: Watford 2-1 Bournemouth

West Brom v Burnley

Alan Pardew’s side look doomed (Getty)West Brom have lost their last seven league games but I feel they can take a point at the Hawthorns against a Burnley side who have only conceded 14 times on the road so far this season. To put that into context only leaders Manchester City (10) have shipped fewer.

The Baggies have fond memories of Burnley, however, winning nine of their last 10 home league games against the Clarets. Albion are ten points from safety and look sure to be playing Championship football next term, but they will not lack for commitment and I feel they might take a point.

Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Burnley

West Ham v Southampton

West Ham will be fearful of a repeat of the ugly scenes that marred their last home fixture (Getty)This is a massive game near the foot of the Premier League table and Mark Hughes will have been delighted by the Saints’ win at Wigan in the FA Cup a fortnight ago.

It is well-documented that West Ham have their problems on and off the pitch having lost their last three league games by a three-goal margin. It looks sure to be a tight, tense affair and if there is to be a winner, I feel the Saints might take the points.

Prediction: West Ham 0-1 Southampton

Everton v Manchester City

Man City boss Pep Guardiola (Getty)Everton won the corresponding fixture 4-0 last season and Manchester City have not actually beaten the Blues in their last four Premier League games, having picked up a point at the Etihad earlier in the season.

Pep Guardiola has never beaten Everton in three previous attempts as a manager but feel he will buck that trend at Goodison as City play the first of two very big games on Merseyside over the next week.

Prediction: Everton 1-3 Manchester City

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Arsenal v Stoke City

Arsene Wenger’s side will be seeking back-to-back league wins for the first time since November (Getty)Arsenal have won their last 15 home games against Stoke in all competitions and it is hard to see past another home win at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Gunners have won their last 24 home league games against sides who started the day in the bottom three but if they beat the Potters at the weekend, it will be the first time they have won back-to-back in the league since November, which highlights their inconsistency this term.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City

Chelsea v Tottenham

Chelsea have an incredible record over Spurs at Stamford Bridhe (Getty)Chelsea have not lost at home to Spurs in the league since February 1990 – a run of 27 games. Indeed, Spurs have never won at Stamford Bridge in the history of the Premier League – an unwanted record of 25 games and counting.

Sunday’s clash promises to be a quality, full-blooded encounter and I expect to see goals. Spurs have taken the lead but failed to hang on in their last two league games at the Bridge losing 2-1 last term and, famously, surrendering a 2-0 lead back in May 2016 – a result that went down particularly well in Leicester.

Both sides came through difficult FA Cup quarter-final away ties before the international break and this could be a dress rehearsal of the FA Cup final in May, although Manchester United and Southampton will have much to say in the semi-finals.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham

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Michael Owen is a Brand Ambassador for BetVictor. For more tips from Michael read his column here.

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West Ham set to offer Manuel Lanzini new long-term deal to rebuff Liverpool and Tottenham

West Ham are poised to offer Manuel Lanzini a new long-term contract (Picture: Getty)West Ham are reportedly set to offer Manuel Lanzini a new long-term contract to rebuff interest from Liverpool and Tottenham.

Lanzini has continued to impress for the Hammers this season, scoring three goals and providing five assists despite missing ten Premier League fixtures through injury.

The Argentine’s performances have attracted attention from a number of top clubs, with Liverpool and Spurs said to be interested in securing his signature.

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Jurgen Klopp remains keen to bolster his options in midfield, having finally agreed to sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January.

Lanzini still has two years remaining on his current contract but the Evening Standard say he will be offered a new bumper deal as soon as West Ham guarantee their place in next season’s Premier League.

The Hammers appeared to be heading for the drop earlier in the season under Slaven Bilic but results have improved since David Moyes was appointed manager in November.

Moyes wants to keep Lanzini at the London Stadium (Picture: Getty)

Liverpool and Tottenham have expressed interest in the Argentine (Picture: Getty)With ten games of the season remaining, West Ham are currently 13th in the top-flight, three points above the relegation places.

Moyes’ side were thrashed 4-1 by Liverpool last weekend, however, and the former Everton and Manchester United boss said: ‘It was a tough day, but we played a good team in form.

‘We’ve done quite well against the top teams since I’ve been at the club and I thought for periods today we also did quite well.’

West Ham face fellow relegation-battlers Swansea City on Saturday.

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Liverpool target Manuel Lanzini approaches Roberto Firmino for shirt-swap after West Ham clash

Roberto Firmino and Manuel Lanzini swapped shirts after West Ham’s defeat (Picture: Liverpool FC)West Ham star Manuel Lanzini was spotted swapping shirt with Roberto Firmino amid speculation that Liverpool are interested in signing the attacking midfielder.

Lanzini was handed his first start in a month on Saturday and the 25-year-old looked a long way from full fitness at Anfield following his hamstring injury.

David Moyes decided to substitute Lanzini in the 58th minute of West Ham’s 4-1 defeat and the highly-rated Argentine will have been disappointed not to impress on Merseyside.

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Lanzini is firmly on Liverpool’s radar and is being eyed as the ideal replacement for Philippe Coutinho following the Brazilian’s transfer to Barcelona.

The Argentina international was heavily linked with a move to Anfield in January and caught up with Liverpool forward Firmino after the match at the weekend.

Lanzini looked like a nervous fan as he approached Firmino for the shirt-swap.

Perhaps he’ll have his very own Liverpool shirt in the not-too-distant future if Jurgen Klopp gets his way…

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Speaking after Liverpool’s victory, Klopp said: ‘You hope for a game like this, and you want to see it, but it’s really rare that you get it.

‘Today we got it and it’s unbelievably important for us because of the situation in the table and the period of the season we are in.’

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Premier League all-stars: How a North XI v South XI proposed by Romelu Lukaku might look

Romelu Lukaku has suggested a Premier League all-stars clash (Picture: Metro.co.uk)Romelu Lukaku has suggested the Premier League introduce an NBA style all-star game – but what might it actually look like?

Every February in the NBA an exhibition game involving the best talent in basketball is organised and is a major fixture on the calendar.

The proposal put forward by Lukaku is for a North XI v South XI contest.

Here’s an idea for you guys… the nba has all-star game! Don’t you guys think we should organise one in the @premierleague.. The north vs the south! And the fans vote… what do you guys think? @premierleague @FA 😏😉
— R.Lukaku Bolingoli9 (@RomeluLukaku9) February 26, 2018

To start imagining what the two teams would look like, first the 20 Premier League teams would need to be split into those representing the north and those representing the south…

Teams from the north

Man City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Burnley, Leicester, Everton, Huddersfield, Newcastle, Stoke, West Brom

 

Teams from the south

Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, West Ham, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Swansea

In the NBA, teams are drafted by two players with the most votes. But wanting to see every team in the Premier League represented, we’re insisting on at least one player from every club.

Based on performances this season and sheer star quality – this is how we imagine the XIs to look…

NORTH XI

The front three of Alexis Sanchez, Jamie Vardy and Mohamed Salah looks lethal, with a ridiculous amount of pace between them.

In midfield there’s enough quality to find the passes, with Kevin de Bruyne the standout player. His Man City team-mate Fernandinho joins him to provide some defensive mindedness to proceedings.

Kevin de Bruyne and Alexis Sanchez are in the XIA defence with Burnley defender Nick Pope commanding them looks a solid bet, with West Brom’s Jonny Evans making the cut despite his recent late night antics.

North team in full…

Man City – Kevin de Bruyne + Fernandinho

Manchester United – Alexis Sanchez

Liverpool – Mohamed Salah

Burnley – Nick Pope

Leicester – Jamie Vardy

Everton – Cuca Martina

Huddersfield – Aaron Mooy

Newcastle – Jamaal Lascelles

Stoke – Xherdan Shaqiri

West Brom – Jonny Evans

SOUTH XI

Harry Kane and Eden Hazard were the two easiest selections for the South XI with the pair consistently tormenting defences over the last few years.

There’s pace and creativity behind them in Richarlison, Wilfried Zaha and Manuel Lanzini while Mesut Ozil will be able to pick out the killer passes.

Harry Kane was the easiest pick (Getty)Marcos Alonso of Chelsea is the standout defender while Lucasz Fabianski goes in goal having impressed for Swansea this season despite their struggles.

North team in full…

Tottenham – Harry Kane

Chelsea – Marcos Alonso + Eden Hazard

Arsenal – Mesut Ozil

Watford – Richarlison

Bournemouth – Nathan Ake

Brighton – Shane Duffy

West Ham – Manuel Lanzini

Southampton – Mario Lemina

Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha

Swansea – Lukasz Fabianski

 

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Patrice Evra shows off gruesome wound after feisty Liverpool clash

The Frenchman was jeered by the Anfield crowd during the match (Pictures: Twitter @Evra / Getty)Patrice Evra was given a lasting souvenir from his debut for West Ham, with the full-back requiring three stitches after a fierce challenge against Liverpool.

The Frenchman signed on a free transfer at the start of February after his contract was terminated by Marseille for lashing out at a fan, and was picked to start at Anfield.

It was his first appearance since October, though it did not go as planned as the Hammers were beaten 4-1 and Evra was abused throughout the match.

A first-half strike from Emre Can was followed up by a second half rout as Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all got on the score sheet.

And, to add insult to injury, the defeat also left Evra with a severe gash on his ankle which required stitches after the match, though he was in good spirits regardless.

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The veteran tweeted: ‘Not a good result but I am very happy to be back in the Premier League. I have missed this game and these tackles! #3stitches #ILoveThisGame’

However, Evra’s return – and the match itself – was somewhat soured after the Anfield faithful targeted the former Manchester United defender for his involvement in a racismrow with former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

Evra was on the end of a thrashing, though enjoyed his Premier League return regardless (Getty)He was booed when the line-ups were read out, fans sung Suarez’s name and one chant accused Evra of being ‘one lying bastard’.

Speaking after the match, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp distanced himself from the chants, saying: ‘I heard it during the game. I don’t have the same history with Evra as the Liverpool supporters. I can’t say anything about that.’

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Jurgen Klopp speaks out after Mohamed Salah incredibly matches Luis Suarez record

Salah scored his 31st of the season (Picture: Getty)Jurgen Klopp praised Mohamed Salah for his ‘desire for goals’ after the Egyptian banged in his 31st of the season.

The 25-year-old has enjoyed an incredible debut campaign at Anfield and was in explosive form once more as Liverpool ran out 4-1 winners against West Ham in the Premier League.

Salah notched the Reds second of the afternoon, with Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all getting on the scoresheet, as Liverpool rose above Manchester United into second place in the Premier League.

Most impressively, though, Salah matched Luis Suarez’s record goal haul season during his time at Liverpool.

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Suarez’s total has been matched by Salah (Picture: PA)The Uruguayan, who now plays for Barcelona, thumped home 31 goals in the entirety of Liverpool’s 2013-14 title-chasing season and yet the Egypt international has already matched that total.

And Salah’s manager was full of praise for the attacker after another fine afternoon’s work.

‘In football it’s all about doing the right thing in the right moment. And I like Mo’s desire for goals, you could see that.

‘Flexibilty, being fluent, depends on all the players around. You cannot just have one player flexible. That’s how it is.

Klopp was delighted (Picture: Getty)‘If you see how we change positions, how Roberto (Firmino) immediately defends each moment for Mo. Sadio does the same.

‘It’s really important. If you didn’t do that – because you cannot score from every situation – you can cause yourself problems.

‘Yes he is doing well, he scored from not the biggest chance we had in the game. It was a nice goal.’

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